News In Brief

Supporters of opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri were taking consolation from her choice as vice president of Indonesia. The People's Consultative Assembly gave her the second prize a day after riots in Jakarta and on the tourist island of Bali by followers angry that she'd been denied the presidency. The capital was reported calm yesterday in the wake of the violence, which killed two people.

Invading Russian forces were within eight miles of Chechnya's capital but would attack it only if doing so helped to achieve the goal of eliminating Muslim rebels, the Kremlin's defense minister said. Grozny's suburbs were largely empty of residents, with Russian troops visible through binoculars. But markets in the city center remained busy. Experts said the Russians were being far more cautious than during their 1994-96 war against Chechnya, in which they took heavy casualties.

In its first public comment since last week's coup in Pakistan, the party of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif demanded his immediate release. Sharif is being held at an undisclosed location while the military attempts to accumulate evidence to try him for corruption. Sharif's Muslim League said any crackdown on corruption in government should be even-handed and "not vindictive."

Twenty-four million voters prepared to go to the polls Sunday for a presidential election that appears likely to end a decade of Peronist Party rule in Argentina. Radical Party challenger Fernando de la Rua, whose own campaign ads call him "boring" despite his lead in opinion surveys, has based his bid on ending corruption and easing the debt load on small businesses. But Peronist candidate Eduardo Duhalde was reminding voters that the last Radical president, Raul Alfonsin, left office months ahead of time in 1989 with the economy reeling from hyperinflation. Incumbent Carlos Menem is credited with leading a substantial recovery. But the national jobless rate is still 14.5 percent.

On grounds that he's now directing his followers to work for peace, Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan appealed for clemency to the Turkish court reviewing his death sentence. Ocalan's lawyers are seeking a new trial or at least to have his sentence reduced to life in prison following his conviction for treason. More than 30,000 people died in his group's 15-year separatism fight. The appeals court is due to announce its decision Nov. 25. Turkey is under pressure not to execute Ocalan if it wishes to be admitted to the European Union.

The discovery by police of an active underground firing range cast new shadows over peace hopes in Northern Ireland. The range, near Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, held a cache of guns and ammunition that police believe were intended for attacks across the border by members of an Irish Republic Army splinter group. Ten suspects were arrested, at least one of them from Northern Ireland.

A day after his escape from France was reported, the nation's highest court upheld the conviction of Maurice Papon for World War II crimes against humanity. Papon was free on appeal when he fled to avoid prison for deporting Jews to Nazi death camps.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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